Thursday, 28 October 2021

School turns sports hall into mass testing centre

School turns sports hall into mass testing centre

MORE than 4,000 lateral flow tests have been carried out at the Piggott School in Wargrave since pupils returned in early March.

A mass coronavirus testing centre has been set up in the sports hall and is staffed by about 50 parents and members of the community who voluntereed to be trained.

There are16 testing stations available at any one time and the tests are  carried out in stages, starting with sixth-form students.

Headteacher Derren Gray said: “It has been an incredible team effort to meet the Department for Education guidelines for the safe return to school.

“It has taken a whole school community taskforce to make this happen and ensure we can achieve this epic challenge swiftly, smoothly and safely.

“We cannot thank our school community enough for their support and words of encouragement throughout this challenging and unprecedented time. 

“We have no doubt that Piggott students will demonstrate their resilience and courage once again as they return to school in these unusual circumstances and take it all in their stride. 

“The safety and wellbeing of Piggott students and staff is our number one priority and will continue to dictate the decisions we make in relation to the transition back to school. 

“The positive messages from our parents that we receive on a daily basis have really kept our staff buoyant at such a challenging time.”

The testing centre was first established in January to give reassurance to the small number of children and staff on site during the latest national lockdown when the school was closed.

Piggott, which has about 1,400 students, was then providing for only about 25 to 30 children of key workers or those considered to be vulnerable.

Students who have had three lateral flow tests are now expected to carry out tests themselves, using home testing kits.

Deputy head Rebecca Alexander said students had been nervous about coming back to school after months of remote learning but were now starting to feel more comfortable back in the classroom.

She said: “The students have brought life back into the school. We have been extremely impressed by the positivity and resilience shown by all our school community, with everyone embracing the opportunities that returning to the classroom has brought.

“It has been wonderful to see friends reunite and hear laughter around the school but, above all, see familiar smiling faces both inside and outside the classroom.

“We were acutely aware that many of our students were looking forward to coming back to school but were nervous about the lateral flow testing programme.

“All the students who have been part of the testing programme have been extremely brave. The wonderful team of volunteers in the testing centre, many of whom are parents, have commented on how polite, articulate and personable our students are.

“In fact, the manner in which the students have behaved has resulted in some of the volunteers offering additional hours in the centre.

“The realisation of the testing centre has been very much a team effort. We could not have done it without the generosity of our volunteers from our parent body and the local community.”

Mrs Alexander said staff would be working particularly hard to ensure students in exam years received support. The summer exams have been cancelled and replaced by teacher-assessed grades, as happened last year.

She added: “The main message for now is to keep working to show us how well you can do. 

“We will be working closely with year 11 and year 13 to give them every opportunity to perform well and demonstrate their skill and understanding in all of their qualifications.”

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